Asheville, N.C.
With a century under its belt this year, The Grove Park Inn in Asheville considers lifetime occasions such as weddings, debutante parties, and family reunions a mainstay.

“The Grove Park Inn has lasted and grown over a century, and one of the things that’s contributed to the longevity is that customers pass along the gift of the inn to the next generations,” says the inn’s Director of Sales, Tryg Brody. “People have celebrated lifetime events with us for decades, and they’ve given no indication of cutting back.”

The mountain beauty of the region, where celebrities, families and business groups have been gathering and relaxing for decades, adds even more appeal, Brody adds.

Colorado Springs, Colo.
It isn’t just Rocky Mountain allure and The United States Air Force Academy presence that draw in SMERF groups to Colorado Springs. Rates on rooms, F&B and just about everything groups need are noticeably less than in the big city an hour north. “The Springs” is also home to about 70 faith-based organizations, which helps bring in religious groups. Colorado colleges and universities also find the area a great meetings site, especially in late summer and early fall.

Kansas City, Mo.
K.C. is scoring big with the religious and sports sectors, and upcoming events through 2018 include blockbusters like the Evangelical Free Church of America convention in 2014 that will draw about 7,000 attendees for a $4.6 million impact on the local economy. A youth conference in 2015 by the International House of Prayer is expected to bring in 12,000 attendees for an impact of $5 million.

“Our central U.S. location is part of why we draw religious groups, because many can drive here,” says Kim Dooley, KCVA national accounts manager for religious and multicultural groups. “Also, we work hard on building and keeping relationships with these groups, and this can be the most important factor.”

Wilmington, Del.
With its central-eastern seaboard location near New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Wilmington is a drive-to destination for a third of the U.S. population. No sales tax on meeting rooms and F&B provides more incentive to SMERF groups, who find the area’s nearby Brandywine Valley culture corridor yet another big draw. And to top it all off, the Greater Wilmington CVB offers a $20,000 local transportation incentive to groups that generate at least 100 room nights.